Ok, so today I rode the light rail for the first time alone. and I can say, this was the first time I was actually very happy to have the CI to help me hear. In Denver, where I live, the light rail isn’t exactly deaf friendly, but it also isn’t totally discriminatory either. I rode it from the nearest station to down town Denver for my jury summons. I have been picked for jury selection, more on that will come after the trial is complete.
The first thing I noticed, and appreciated was the discount tickets for people with socially defined disabilities. I don’t like to say I have a disability, but at times, having that label can be very helpful. Because I am Deaf, and that is defined as a disability, instead of a one way light rail ticket being 2.25, it was 1.10. Because I am Deaf, and that is defined as a disability, the state of colorado is paying for me to go back to school. Because I am Deaf, and that is defined as a disability, it is illegal for a doctor or school or hospital or law enforcement agency to deny my right to an interpreter. These are the plus sides to having a “disability”.
Now… like I said, Denvers Light Rail system isn’t exactly deaf friendly. They do have signs saying what stop is next, what one you are at… but unless you get a good seat (and lets face it, at 7:30 in the morning, its almost impossible to get a good seat, if you even get a seat). I did notice that the sign that will tell you what is next and where you are now flashes every time the PA system talks. But… if you aren’t in a good seat, or if someone is standing infront of you… its hard to see it, its hard to see it flash. There are other LED lights that tell you what line you are in, and I think it would be nice if they said what the stop was too. The system also (I’m thinking for the interest of saving time) gives you about a minute to get off the train… if you are having to look around, try and determine which stop you are at, or if the next stop is yours and you HAVEN’T been on the train much before… it is possible for you to… miss you stop (I missed my stop this morning, but thankfully the next stop is just as close to the court house).
The last time, and really it was the first time, I had been on the light rail, I was with a hearing person, so they were able to let me know when our stop was coming up. I really think there are a few things Denver RTD could do to improve the experience for new deaf riders, having more captions would be the first thing. I noticed, that while the captions (I was able to see them better on my way home) only said a few words, it seemed like the voice (which I can pick out, but not understand, hence why I was happy to have the CI on the train) seemed to say quite a bit more. I’m not sure what it says… but it says something. I don’t know if this is something that can or would be changed, but I think it would really improve the experience, I know it would have for me. Well, tomorrow is another train adventure, and lets hope that I can actually get off at my stop now that I know where it is.